Passwords Are Like Underwear : Cybersecurity Tips

It’s a threat that’s only getting bigger. Globally, Cybercrime is a $12+ billion industry! Cybercriminals have consolidated and are very well funded. Think of it as the virtual mafia of today’s digital age. There’s now larger, yet fewer, cybercrime organizations.

As businesses increasingly go to the cloud and people shift more of their lives online, the risk of hackers stealing data has grown exponentially. I’ll be the first to admit that I think the cloud is the best thing since sliced bread. The fact that I can back up all my data without having to event think about it everyday gives me tons of peace of mind. Ever since losing an entire paper during a hard drive crash during my Doctoral program I’ve relied heavily on the cloud storage. But, we can’t ignore the downsides to this type of data storage and sharing either. Case in point with Sony.

Vulnerability

Smaller organizations are certainly more at risk to cybersecurity breaches due to:

  • Fewer levels of awareness
  • Less in-house IT expertise
  • Fewer layers of protection
  • Fewer policies regarding cybersecurity

If a cybersecurity breach of such a magnitude can happen at Sony, you can only imagine what can happen with smaller companies and organizations.

Cybersecurity Tips: What You Can Do

To start locking down your data and protecting your organization, here’s some cybersecurity tips you can implement immediately.

Create a Cybersecurity Policy

  • Use strong passwords and change them often. I know it can be a real bear to keep up with this, but think of the potential ramifications if you don’t. Have all passwords contain a variety of characters, upper and lowercase, numbers, and the like. For example instead of Mycompany1 do something like YellowuNicorN#_!3 Check out better ways to manage passwords (I know who can just remember all of ‘em yet where so we put ‘em???)
  • Educate employees on Cybersecurity policies & best practices; share cybersecurity tips with everyone on your team
  • Reward employees for adhering to Cybersecurity policies and best practices. For example, track who does change their passwords and keeps them complex and reward them with a gift card.
  • Punish those who don’t follow policies. I’m normally very against any type of punishment in management and leadership. BUT, in this case where it’s really a “life or death” type of situation when it comes to a business, assets, and data, it’s quite serious. If someone fails to update passwords or adhere to policies, follow your company’s HR protocol for progressive discipline.
  • Get buy-in. This starts from the top and goes down. The company CEO, President, or Founder needs to support and roll out the cybersecurity initiatives.
  • Controls need to be in place and handled by the appropriate teams and individuals with expertise. If you cannot bring the right type of team in-house to do this, then invest in outsourcing to a reputable cybersecurity company.
  • Malicious codes and anti-virus software must be installed on all computers. And, don’t let it expire! I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. You start to just “x” out of the anti-virus expiration notices flashing on your screen. We always think… eh, it won’t happen to us…
  • Continue to build policies over time. Send a few of your employees, HR, IT, or executives to a cybersecurity training or conference at least once per year. Staying on top of information and tactics is everyone’s business, not just the anti-social IT guy in the basement.

I know this is all rather terrifying and can lead to not even wanting to deal with the internet. But, above all, remember not to live in fear. How many billions of sites are out there and how many gazillions of gigs in cloud stored data? If you take proper measures and keep up with it, then luck will be on your side a lot more than if you didn’t.

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Higher Education Failing Our Students

It’s no secret that the US is having some pretty severe issues in the education department these days. I’m going to focus just on the higher education aspect for this convo, but much of this can be applied across the board in terms of education. Warning – some of this may piss you off.

Everyone Gets a Trophy

Ahhh… the generation of everyone being a winner. I’m a millennial myself so I know all about this. It started around the late 80’s and has continued. All kids are winners. It doesn’t matter if you actually won the race or not, you get a trophy too. Everybody gets a trophy. I always hear Oprah in my mind on one of her famous giveaway shows – “You get a trophy and you get a trophy! E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E GETS A TROPHYYYYY!!!”

I digress. But, you get the point. Sure, I understand where it all came from. I totally get that parents want all kids to feel special. But, in doing so what in the world have we created? Everyone is now entitled to achieve everything without having to do much to earn it. How sustainable is that?

Personally, I don’t believe everyone should get a trophy. That’s not the real world. What happens when you leave the safe, “you’re so special” world of school and mommy and daddy? Newsflash – nobody gives a hoot about you in the real world. Sorry. I know that’s harsh. But, you’re not gonna get a trophy just for showing up to work. Even if you do really amazing stuff and make a company tons of money you still may never get a trophy.

So, the fact that kids are entering the college world thinking they are gonna get a trophy and that it shouldn’t be too hard is setting them up for failure. You can get a trophy. But, you have to earn it. And, that takes more than showing up.

Failure Factories

So what happens with this trophy fantasy? Colleges and universities are businesses. They’re not education institutions despite what they tell us and what we like to think. At the end of the day, businesses are about the bottom lines. Sure, some may be have a focus on doing good too, but the bottom line is the bottom line.

College and universities now have to play into the trophy world otherwise they will run out of students. After all, they have to stay in business too. How do they do that? By having paying clients, which are students paying tuition. Most colleges and universities (except the top dogs) have lowered their standards to actually be able to admit students. And, they kinda need ’em to stay in business.

Don’t Worry We’ll Waive It

One of the big recent trends for MBA students is the elimination of the GMAT entrance exam. Does it increase applicants? Yes. Does it increase admits? Yes. Does it increase enrollment? Yes. Sounds great, right? Sure, for the business of the university. What about for the students? Some might say yes since the argument out there that a test doesn’t measure anything and some people aren’t good “test takers” exists. BUT, I view it as being detrimental to students. This isn’t due to me having any romantic relationships with standardized tests. I don’t like them either! But, it’s a right of passage. You have to work hard, study, commit, take the exam. It shows and develops character. To me, if you can’t commit to an exam, why would you commit to an MBA program? If you “don’t have time” for the GMAT, why would you have time to go to class for two years?

As a former business school recruiter I always used the example that I took the GMAT FIVE TIMES to get into my MBA program of choice. Yes. Five times. Am I embarrassed of that? NO! I was determined to go where I wanted and I was willing to do everything I could. I dedicated a whole year since you can only take the exam every 6-8 weeks or so. I paid at least a few thousand dollar between the fees, prep courses, etc. I went to class 4 nights a week for a solid month or two. Long story short… I worked for it. I earned it. It showed character. It built character. It was my right of passage. It built confidence in myself. What would have happened if they said, “eh don’t worry about it just come on over and start class.” Hmmm… would it have meaned as much? No. Would I have developed my fierce persistence and “never give up” personality? Probably not. Would I have gone on to get a Doctorate too? Probably not. Would I be contributing as much to society long term? Probably not.

What I’m saying here is that the more we lower standards in our educational system, the more we make education easy and attainable for anyone and everyone, the less value it has. That’s nice if everyone in the country has a college degree but if they have no skills and poor character, what the hell does that do? I just creates more debt from student loans and less skilled workers for our economy. We’re not doing anyone a service by removing hoops and making it easier and easier so everyone gets a trophy and so colleges and universities can meet their quota. Sorry business schools, but the truth hurts.

Higher Education Failing Our Students

Another big way that higher education is failing our students is the lack of actual relevant skills being taught in the classroom and lack of integration of real world experience outside the classroom. Let’s break this down.

Faculty: I have tremendous respect for faculty that have done their time and been teaching for decades. But, I also see many older, tenured faculty that are totally outdated with what they’re teaching. Sure, some subjects may not change much. But, many do! I know keeping up with our fast paced world of technology and research isn’t easy. But, I also think we’re doing our students a disservice if we’re teaching them outdated stuff. For example, why should a student spend a few thousand dollars on a marketing course if it’s taught by someone who hasn’t been in marketing since 1995? Things have changed… Faculty need to be on top of the latest strategies, tactics, and information. I also see this all the time with faculty that are blatantly refusing to teach any classes online or even in a blended format. I get that the technology can be challenging and even scary. But, by not offering education in formats that are effective for students, we’re hindering them. Guess what, virtual classes and programs aren’t going away. So, you better get on it and do it well.

Technology: On that topic, let’s talk about the lack of technology skills that our students are being taught. To me, every single major should be integrating real world technology skills. It shouldn’t just be a select few. Everyone needs to know how to wear many hats and how to be effective with using technology. I’m not saying everyone has to be able to build a website or blog, but a lot of people right now are really quite stupid. I know that’s harsh. But, really. I’ve never seen so many people (of all ages) that simply don’t know how to do things that really aren’t that difficult and they need to know how to do. I’m talking about even basic computer usage and overall problem solving. What’s the point of a degree in something like philosophy if you don’t know how to do anything other than talk about theories? How will you develop your own curriculum if you want to go on and teach? How do you communicate in a global world? How do you use technology to enhance interaction and information transfer. And so on.

Curriculum and Programs: Overall, degree programs are also outdated.  A lot of schools don’t even offer programs that make sense for today’s workforce and skills needed. One reason for this is that higher education moves incredibly S-L-O-W. Seriously. I used to see snails passing me by in the hallways. By the time schools get around to approving a new program it’s already outdated. So, that’s one issue. Another is that higher education is full of ego-maniacs. Anytime you throw a bunch of doctoral level faculty and executive level admins together it’s gonna turn into Ego Fest 2015. And, I’m telling you it’s not quite like Stagecoach or Burning Man. Faculty all think their ideas and their specialties are totally amazing and the way of the world. Of course, that makes sense. I’m probably the same way. But, where it becomes an issue is when nobody goes up against the “wants” and presents the needs, hard data and the facts. Sure, a faculty member might want to develop a new PhD program in their area of expertise – that’s great that they’re passionate about it! But, maybe the data isn’t there to show it makes sense. Maybe it’s not good for students to invest the time and money into it. Maybe there’s ways to adjust it to make sense for the skills needed and the investment of the students.

Unfortunately, most higher education administrators don’t want to take reality into account. Administrators want to please faculty. It makes them look good. Faculty wants to create programs that make them stars. It’s a vicious ego cycle and if people don’t have the balls to step in, do the research, and adjust to the market, then we keep pumping out useless degrees at higher and higher price points. I’ve stepped in quite a few times in situations like these and I tell you from experience, it does not go over well. Ego fest continues and reality gets shoved to the side and thrown out the window like yesterday’s trash. The cycle continues.

Sure, you could say that it’s up to the students to decide on a program and if they choose a degree that doesn’t give them the skills they want then it’s on them. Not really. They are looking to educators to help advise them. They’re looking to the recruiters and the faculty and the advisers to help them be on the right path for success. If they could figure it all out on their own, they wouldn’t be there in the first place! It’s no wonder in the end they often feel duped if their degree didn’t pay off as “promised.” Of course the school recruiters are going to advise the prospective students to take the degree program – that’s their job. They’re sales people. Of course the faculty and administrators will advise prospects too. It’s their job too. So, prospective students are not getting objective recommendations when they look to an actual college or university for information and decision making guidance. Typically they don’t know that, especially early on in their educational career. They may get roped into a $75k bachelors degree in basket weaving and wonder why the hell they did it 5 years later. But, that’s too bad. Now they have to pay it back even though they don’t have any skills other than basket weaving which isn’t exactly hiring. And, then where’s the university to help? No where. And, you know the way to get out of paying back all those student loans you now owe? Death. That’s it. Whoops. If only they knew then what they know now.

What To Do?

The world of higher education in the US needs to shift gears and move the focus back to where it belongs – on the customer. In this case, the students. For starters, we need to do the following:

  1. Integrate robust online class technology WITH ample training for faculty across all generations. Don’t force faculty to teach online but make it exciting so that many will want to. Your university doesn’t have to offer online or even blended degrees but have the technology in place. You never know when it will make sense to offer an online class or even an online workshop. It’s better to be ahead of the game than scrambling to catch up.
  2. Update curriculum! Integrate real-world skills into all programs. Eliminate programs that just simply don’t make sense for students now or in the future. Create new programs that do make sense. And, don’t be afraid to be a trend setter! So many schools sit around and wait. They don’t want to create something new unless someone else is doing it. I always find this ironic since it goes against the heart of education and innovation. Get out there, do the research, create something innovative. Get off the “this is what we’ve always done” train. Get involved with accrediting organizations to try and make changes on a national scale!
  3. Diversify! Bring in lecturers, adjuncts, and even new full-time faculty that have more diverse, real world skills. Many colleges and universities won’t think of hiring someone unless they have 10-20 years in the classroom as well as their Doctorate. Mix it up. Educators come in all different shapes and sizes.
  4. Squash the ego. This one is the most challenging, of course. Ego is higher ed is always going to be there. But, if more people are bold, stand up, speak up and prove points based on market research, data, and past history, the more we can balance the ego with reality. In the long run, faculty and administrators will start to come to their senses about what’s successful and what will really make them all look good in the long run.

What are  your thoughts? Comment below!

If you have any questions or want advice on your own educational path, feel free to email me anytime. I’ve been through it and I’m happy to help.

Be good or be good at it,

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Benefits of Being A Highly Sensitive Person

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of benefits of being a highly sensitive person. A lot of people, especially women, struggle with being sensitive. I often hear a lot of frustration from others that feel that they let others affect them too much in a negative way. Ultimately, it boils down to a feeling of being let down. I’ve read statistics that 1 in 5 people are considered “overly sensitive.” Personally, I think it’s more than that and I think the term “overly sensitive” is annoying. Maybe that’s because I’m overly sensitive to it.

Crying is not a Weakness

This one blows my mind. The fact that society has painted crying as a weakness for so long is just silly and irresponsible. After all, crying is just a way to release emotions when you can’t find the words for them. We can cry when we’re say, angry, frustrated, or even really happy. I start crying when I laugh too much. Is that a weakness?

Crying as means to release anger and frustration is one of the healthiest things you can do. If you hold it in, it will come out eventually.  There’s no way around that.  In the extreme cases, we see in society how it comes out in the form of rage and even murder. I watched an episode of Dateline tonight where the teenager had so much pent up anger she stabbed her mother to death in her sleep. Hmm… perhaps crying would have been a better outlet? So, it’s upsetting that society paints it as a weakness or something to be embarrassed of. Being a crier is completely healthy. How many times have you cried and afterwards you felt so much better? Every single time.

The more we embrace and remove the shame of crying in both our personal and professional lives, the more balanced we will be. Have a good cry at the office when things boil over. It will lead to a huge release of frustration, more clarity, and less anxiety. No shame in that! And, it won’t land you in jail. #winwin

Royalty Loves You

Highly sensitive people traditionally have been sought after to serve as royal advisers. They are a great balance to the impulsive, aggressive, warrior king types for obvious reasons. They have been known as “ritual leaders.” The ritual leader marks off and protects the space, prepares others to enter it, guides them while there, and helps them return to society with the right meaning for the experience. Pretty cool, huh?

MVP’s of Teams

Another one of the major benefits of being a highly sensitive person. Every team should have at least one sensitive Sally on it. Why? They are the mostdetailed and deep thinkers of anyone. They are incredibly valuable when it comes to analyzing. They may not be the best at making the final decision but they are the key to the process.

They Wrote the Book on Etiquette

Because highly sensitive people are more aware and conscientious they are much more considerate of others and tend to have much better manners. It can be frustrating to them when others aren’t the same. This trait enables sensitive people to make much better impressions on others which in the long run helps them in every relationship, especially in the work place. Nobody is better at influence than someone who’s highly tuned into their manners and conscientious of others. The only challenge they have is managing the frustration when others are the same. But, this is a gift that not everyone has. Those of us that do can bestow the wisdom… or just laugh it off. Either way, don’t let it get to you. Sometimes it’s tough giving Countess Luann a run for her money.

Envy-Worthy Connections

Because sensitive people feel so deeply they also develop connections with others on a much deeper level and ultimately have much more fulfilling relationships. Sensitive Sallies have a huge capacity to empathize with others, making them the friend everyone wants. They make excellent therapists, advisers and artists, just to name a few. Sensitive people will have relationships that go below the surface that non-sensitive people can’t even being to imagine. And, there’s truly nothing better than deep, interpersonal connections. It’s something we all seek whether we realize it or not. And, sensitive people are good at it. Really really good at it. It may not always be super fun to feel emotions so deeply. But, the bad times are worth it for the mind-blowing good times we sensitites (I just made that up as another word for sensitive people… you are welcome to steal it) are privy to.

No Faking It Here

Highly sensitive people cannot fake personality. They are authentic to a “T” by nature and there’s now way around that. They’re like cats when it comes to showing complete emotional honestly. Sincerity is one of their main traits and they are so incredibly open-hearted that they try to make others around them feel as comfortable and as good as possible. How selfless is that? In a world that has sooooooooooo many inauthentic, fake personalities these sensitive sallies stick out like a sore thumb. And, that’s a good thing. We make the world better and how wonderful is it that we don’t have to wait for anything to do so? People are drawn to us for the better and we have the innate abilities to help without even knowing it most of the time.

You’re Too Sensitive

The next time someone tells you that, let them know that yes, you are and it’s a wonderful gift that you’re happy to share with the 80% of people that unfortunately aren’t (like the idiot that tells you this asinine too sensitive comment). Sensitive people usually become more enriched human beings and they are incredibly kind.

Don’t let the culture of the U.S. make you feel that you’re out of sync and not “normal” because of your sensitivity. Being “too sensitive” or “too emotional” are criticisms born out of the majority who we make uncomfortable (aka the fake ones!). Use your sensitivity to your advantage. You are more creative, aware, and sincere than the vast majority. Live strategically, reminding yourself of your incredible gifts and that you are in the minority which is the only reason the “too sensitive” cult of comments exists.  When it’s to their advantage, the majority loves your sensitive ways – i.e. empathy for them.

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Be Cool. Don’t Be All Uncool.

If you understood this post title, then you’re already ahead of the game. (Thanks for the inspiration, Countess!)  The sad reality is, most companies still are very, very uncool. And, it’s not necessarily because they’re clueless about coolness. The coolness I’m talking about has nothing to do with sports cars, overpriced sushi, diamond encrusted medallions or the hottest lunch table to sit at. The coolness I’m talking about revolves around human psychology and human performance in the workplace. The “what”, “how” and most importantly the “why” of everything we do.

Uncool companies are a ticking time bomb. Typically it’s because of the in-bred stubbornness to do “what we’ve always done” while violently shoving the new norms out the back door. They are wrought with turnover and insanely low productivity levels. The managers in uncool companies are exhausted. They moan and groan to everyone that will listen for 3 minutes about how horribly unmotivated their staff is… unlike they ever were when they had to walk 5 miles uphill in the snow both ways to earn their lunch money. We know. We get it. #brokenrecord

Only those leaders and company executives that are truly humble, analytical and courageous can dive into the deep waters of coolness (sounds relaxing, eh?) and come out on the other side with a truly transformational, butt-kicking brand. Here’s the major areas that differentiate cool vs. uncool companies.

You Wore What?

Remember when “Casual Fridays” were all the rage? This started shortly after women were allowed to <GASP> wear pants. Then society went totally off the rails with the ability to be casual one day a week. And, by casual, we all know that meant a conservative sweater, perhaps a peep toe heel (don’t show all the toes!!!)  and if you really pushed the envelope, some sort of denim pants (just nothing in the “skinny jean” family).

Dress codes have always been a hot topic. As more and more cool companies tear up the dress code and allow employees to wear what they want, they are seeing the results. One of the major results of this? Increased productivity. Seem crazy? It’s actually quite simple. Think about a time when you were most productive, especially if it was at an administrative task. Were you sitting upright in a pinstripe suit, with perfectly polished pumps and the perfect blow out? Nope. You were probably in sweat pants (or any other sort of pants, which would be unbuttoned), cross-legged with no shoes on.

I can hear you now… gasping at how horrible the world will be with all these people running around in sweatpants on Wall St. Calm down. That’s not the reality either. The reality is that when you hire adults with good character and let them decide how they want to dress, they will rise to the occasion. We know when it would be best to wear a suit. We know when we had administrative crap to get done so we could wear the flip-flops. We know how to decide what’s ideal and when. Cool companies ditch the dress codes.

Do You Have a Card?

What do you do? What’s your job title? How many words are in your job title so I know how important you are? Cool companies ditch the job titles. It’s impossible to have a flat, collaborative environment when job titles are flirting with everyone’s psyche. Job titles make us take sides and breed bureaucracy. We’re taught that managers are better than front line. Directors are better than managers. VP’s are better than them. And anyone with “Executive” before all the other words in their title is basically a direct descendant of the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz.

The reality is that we aren’t defined by our job titles. And, even job descriptions now mean nothing. Heck, in a role I had as an “Executive” I spent the majority of my day plunging human waste out of the restrooms after the repeat plumbing issues. Yet, no where in my title or job description was any custodial work.

In today’s collaboration based workplace there’s too much emphasis on titles and hierarchy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that just adds more barriers to the world of collaboration. So, have your job titles but don’t focus on them. Don’t hold HR meetings the entire 3rd quarter of the year to create new titles for the 3 new roles you’re hiring. Time is better spent elsewhere. And, titles should be carefully crafted to bring people together not push them farther apart.

I Own You.

Ever have one of those bosses that sent those meeting requests for a Sunday Workshop, Saturday Meeting, After Hours Event, etc. Basically anything outside of your already committed to work schedule. Then, you’re faced with the awkward situation of cancelling your personal plans (your friends hardly remember what you look like anymore anyway), or having the respectful yet terrifying convo with your boss about your “personal time”. Those, by the way, never go over well.  If he/she already has a habit of scheduling things off hours without “thinking” then he/she doesn’t give a crap about your personal life.

Cool companies don’t do this. Cool companies not only understand the importance of work and play, but force you to have both. In fact, some of the most successful companies are ones that even have zero policies with vacation. When Richard Branson announced his employees had unlimited vacation time to take as they need, people were shocked. Who would show up to work? The truth is, nothing really changed aside from the fact that employees were now happier and that resulted in increased productivity. Another win. The catch is that you have to make sure your work is done. But, if you get all your work done by Thursday and could take Friday off, would you? Absolutely! Then you come back to work feeling appreciated and rested on Monday. Otherwise, you would have sat there on Friday playing online games, watching the clock tick by and thinking about what you’ll do when you win the lottery. And, if you think that’s not something that goes on in your business, think again. That’s about 90% of your staff on any given day in an “uncool company” so don’t kid yourself. And no, creating a “no online game playing” policy won’t fix it anymore than making drugs illegal stopped the use of them.

Did You Clock in At 8:01?

Remember the movie “Horrible Bosses”? The classic first scene…ahhh gets me every time! If you didn’t see it, go watch it. If you did, then you know exactly where I’m going with this one.

Pay close attention… A time clock does not measure the quality of a person’s work or their productivity. It simply measures their physical presence. Did you get that? Notice I didn’t even say “mental presence”, just physical. If you’re insistent on having a time-clock driven workplace, remember that it’s simply just that. Sure, for some jobs (i.e. frontline) they may be more necessary. But, again, remember the almighty time clock isn’t an answer to your deeper quality and productivity issues. No, the day wasn’t ruined because Betty clocked in 3 minutes late or because Fred clocked out at 4:59.

Black or Red… Who Knows!

Surprisingly, very few companies communicate or include their employees with the financial related aspects of the company. But, keeping them informed is beneficial for many reasons. And, it’s not important just for people that are stockholders.  For employees to be fully engaged in their jobs and the companies they work for, they need to understand the financial performance and how their own personal performance feeds directly into that. That helps to develop accountability and understanding while also giving employees a sense of pride and ownership within their careers. It can also help to reduce stress and rumors in today’s volatile and unpredictable business world. After all, do you like operating in the dark?

Works Best Under Constant Supervision In Hamster Wheel.

Micromanagement kills productivity. Say it again. Micromanagement kills productivity. It does not make employees work hard. It does not make your office more effective. It does not make anything more efficient. And, no, it does not make the life of the micro-manager easier or better. But, you know what does work? Autonomy.

When employees are pressured to work more or work under dictated schedules and processes, the opposite happens. When employees are given autonomy, they flourish. And the more educated and intelligent the person, the more autonomy they need.

You know what happens when you micromanage your staff? They burn out. And, they quit. Look around and see if that’s happening. Then, look in the mirror.

Our Open Door Policy Is Closed Today.

Most business places today are full of motivational posters plastered walls with quotes like “There is no I in team”, “People will forget what you said but they’ll never forget how you made them feel”, and “You miss 100% of the shots you never take”. Next to those framed masterpieces are things like the company’s core values, mission statements and corporate recycling statistics to impress you and your friends. And, what goes along with all these modern day magical office masterpieces? The open door policy. If you’re a manager, you’re told it’s “the policy”. If you’re an employee, you judge every single time the manager’s door is closed… ohhhhh is someone getting fired???? Is he having an affair??? Otherwise WHY IS THE DOOR CLOSED???

An open door policy is a sign of nothing but living in denial. It’s not empowering like you position it to be. It doesn’t mean you’re an open boss. And, it doesn’t mean employees aren’t living in total fear of you as a boss. Just because your door is open, does not mean you are approachable. An open door is often an ego based corporate practice that is misleading. It does not mean that presentation of ideas is welcome or that feedback won’t result in being completely shunned. In fact, the companies with the most “open” of the “open door policies” that I’ve worked for were ironically the most closed with the least approachable and least receptive bosses I’ve ever had. And yes, despite their open doors, their employees were always on eggshells.

The real issues can’t be fixed by a door. Most people do not actively listen. It’s much more passive. Also, the focus on physical aspects, like a door, detract from the real problems of a company. Most people and companies prefer to stick their heads in the sand and sit there comfortably as long as they can. (as long as the check clears)

Open doors and feel good posters don’t fix poor employee performance due to the constant stress of unresolved issues. They don’t fix the fearfulness to even mention problems to their managers, let alone have them be fixed. They don’t fix the loss of talented staff who reached a breaking point because no one would address the core issues.

If you really want to have a successful company or team, you have to get real. Stop focusing on your door. Start focusing on your people.

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25 Ways to get more Social Media Followers

Social media is pointless unless you have people actually reading it. In order to influence more people, you need to focus on these 3 underlying principles then integrate these 25 ways to get more social media followers.

Don’t Be a Jerk:

Be extra awesome to your current followers! One of the biggest faux pas is simply not thanking your new followers or fans. Every time you get a new follower, especially on Twitter, give them a “thanks for following” shout out. You lose more followers than you know simply by not acknowledging them.

Get Intimate:

Ok, you don’t have to know what color underwear they’re sporting. I mean get to know your audience and what they really want. If you want to grow a follower or fan base you have to know what they want, which may not necessarily be what you want. Just because you love to instagram photos of your latest meals doesn’t mean they care (normally no one does, sorry). Maybe they want to see a cool motivation quote. Experiment and see what they like. But don’t just copy what you see another social star does. Your audience is unique and so are you. Be a 1st rate version of yourself not a 2nd rate version of someone else.

Consistency is Key:

All of the strategies in the world don’t work if you pop on social media for a few days then disappear for a few weeks. You need to be active. Every. Single. Day. Yes, I know that can sound daunting. But, if it was easy, everyone would do it. If it matters to you, you will do it or you will outsource it (to someone like me) to do it for you. Oh, any anyone who tells you they have the magic trick to get hundreds of followers from doing only one thing or in 8 minutes a day, please don’t fall for it. Remember 8 Minute Abs? Do you see a bunch of hotties with 6 packs running around from that? Case closed.Now check out the 25 ways to get more social media followers. #social #socialmedia

25 Ways to get more Social Media Followers

  1. This may sound obvious, but put social share buttons everywhere, especially on any blog posts you have. Make it easy for people to click to share with their audience.
  2. Link all your accounts on your contact and about pages. And, if you’re really hip, add a social hub to your blog or website.
  3. Track your posts! See what gets the most action. See who the cool kid is when it comes to what you post. There’s lots of platforms to easily track this. Have contests for free giveaways! Who doesn’t love some free stuff? Make sure people have to “like” or “follow” your account to be entered. T
  4. Don’t you hate being ignored???!!! Respond! This should go without saying. If someone posts a question or even a comment, be nice and respond. Again, if they are already a follower, treat them like gold and hear them out  And, keep in mind if they post something controversial just go with it! That can build more buzz than anything boring!
  5. Stalk people. There’s nothing wrong with this. After all, that’s how I found my husband (HA!). Look up people and see who you might like to follow and ask them to in return. Or, just get into their convos. A great way to do this is to look up hashtags and see who’s saying what. Who knows, you may even find a BFF (or a spouse) from it!
  6. Find cool people. Reach out to influencers! You can use a tool such as Buzzsumo. Share their content, tag or mention them and post on their blog. Building relationships with influencers can mean they will be more likely to share your info to their big fanbase.
  7. Quality wins. When posting focus on quality instead of quantity. Yes, it can seem amazing to post a blog every single day. But, if that blog is rather “blah” then you can build yourself a reputation of not being a quality info sharer.
  8. Use hashtags! I’m not sure why so many people seem to have an aversion to hashtags. They’re so much fun. Use a tool like Twubs or Hashtagify.meto find trending hashtags. Then, use these in your posts to get more followers. Some popular ones right now are #follow #followback #teamfollowback #news #retweet #rt and more!
  9. Bedtime stories. Tell stories as opposed to simply sharing info or being promotional. Who doesn’t love a good story? This is especially true if it is funny or emotionally compelling. Tap into emotions. Be real. People like real people not surface nonsense. I live in LA and there’s plenty of that!
  10. Email your peeps. If you have an email subscriber list (if you don’t, you must do this) be sure to occasionally email them as ask them to follow your social media accounts. If they’re already on your email list they clearly like what you have to say.
  11. Promote on Pinterest! Create topical boards and link everything you pin back to your website, blog, or social media account that you want people to look at. This is a soft approach that works very well. Also, name your boards using keywords. When you start typing a name it will automatically bring up trending keywords. Use them. Don’t ignore them.
  12. This may seem obvious again, but make sure your social media account names and links are correct and show that they are part of your business or you as a person. I can’t tell you how many times I’m on a website and I click a social media link and the account can’t be found. One small typo can cost you lots of fans. Don’t be careless about it. And, keep it consistent with your brand. If your company is Bob’s Shoes then please don’t name yourInstagram SuzyCA18F. (creepy)
  13. The perfect mix. Post original relevant content but also share other people’s content. This keeps your pages interesting and informative while building relationships with others.
  14. Include your social media links on business cards and collateral that you hand out. Make it as easy as possible for people to find you and follow you. This is great for conventions or meetings.
  15. Cross promote on your own accounts. For example, send an occasional tweet with your Facebook url to remind people to follow you there too. And, with that being said, don’t post the same content across all channels all the time. Why would anyone want to follow all of them then? Mix it up.
  16. Streamline efforts. There’s a gazillion social media platforms out there now. Don’t worry about all of them. Focus on what you can manage and do it well. I normally recommend Facebook and Twitter. And, when you can, add in Instagram. Focus on the channels that you can master and that have the biggest audiences.
  17. Post viral content. Post Planner can help by providing images and content that have been proven to go viral.
  18. Promote posts. Facebook offers a Promoted Post option. With this you can spend just a bit (I recommend trying with just $5) and your post will reach more people. Only do it if it’s a really awesome post and don’t waste too much on it.
  19. Where to land? Create landing pages on your site for visitors from each social network you’re on and link them to your social media bios. F
  20. If you have a store or brick and mortar business, promote your social media accounts there! Most will happily send you free stickers for windows. This is especially great for Yelp.
  21. Guest post on popular niche sites. Be a regular contributor and link to your social media accounts in your guest post bio.
  22. Provide info without being egotistical. No, you don’t know everything… sorry. Be unique and provide insights based on your industry knowledge and experience. But, don’t come off as a know-it-all.  Do you like to read stuff from people like that?
  23. Be active in Linkedin groups. Provide insights and value to those members and they will be more likely to follow you.
  24. Be a trend setter follower! Be a source of trending content and breaking news. Set up interest lists on Facebook and follow leading industry sources on Twitter. Then, share the breaking news.

What tips do YOU have? Tell me! Comment below.

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9 Reasons Why Telecommuting Works

If you think that your life would be easier and more productive if you didn’t have to brave traffic to drive to work everyday and deal with daily office politics… well, you’re right. Telecommuting is great for people and incredible for business. If you want to present the idea to your boss, cite this information. Or, if you are the boss, take this into consideration when you think about why you’re so stringent on having everyone in the office everyday.

Why Telecommuting Works

1. Less Real Estate: And, this equals lower expenses for businesses. Imagine if you could cut down on the office space needed to house your employees. How much would you save in business expenses over the course of the year? It’s not that you have to get rid of office space altogether, but perhaps downsize. Of, if you do go the route of getting rid of office space, there’s plenty of options now for temporary work space as needed in most major cities. That’s just not all when it comes to cost savings. For a management role, having that person telecommute slashes business costs by up to 70%. Why? It’s not just the space then it’s all the equipment in the space. According to Global Workplace Analytics, a typical business would save $11,000 USD per person per year. Now, what if you have 50 employees? You do the math. AND, the employees themselves would save on average $2,000 – 7,000 per year.

2. More Happiness: Seriously. Between less stress commuting, more time with family, ability to wear whatever the hell you want, ability to be in surroundings that make you the most productive (I hate white walls, overhead lighting and office buildings are typically freezing so I’m the idiot with a space heater in summer). Working in a traditional office is largely unproductive most of the time. When’s the last time you were in a 4 hour meeting that was productive? For productive people, office environments make them unhappy.

3. More Productivity: Studies have shown huge increases in productivity when telecommuting is implemented. A lot of this is even attributed to improved health which results in more energy. Sitting in traffic, buying typical convenient food lunches and workplace stress are leading causes of our ever-declining health and obesity epidemic.

4. Less Pink Eye: Germs in the typical office are gross. I’ve contracted pink eye from work places. You probably have too…among other things. Things like office phones have more germs than the bathroom. With today’s stringent sick day policies most people go to work sick and contagious half the time they are sick. They feel that they have no choice. And, sometimes they don’t if they run out of “sick days” since corporations tell you how many days per year you can be sick, and typically when. If you accrue sick days then you might earn about .67 per month. So you need to wait until next month to have a full day to take get sick.

5. Less Pollution: For anyone looking to save the world, this is a no brainer on so many levels. In fact, if U.S. employees could commute just 1.5 days per week, it would save 1.35 BILLION gallons of fuel per year. And, people use less energy at home than in an office. This also reduces our dependency on foreign oil so it helps with overall national security. According to Global Workplace Analytics, oil savings would equate to over 37% of our Persian Gulf imports.  AND, less money spent on gas for employees so they make more money. If you need more of an incentive to save the world just watch this video.

6. Less Rush Hour: Enough said. #RoadRage

7. Better Management and Leadership: You may wonder, how?! That doesn’t make sense?? How will we oversee and control our employees??? Well, for starters, that type of mentality is a bigger issue. If you can’t trust your people to do their job then why did you hire them? When employees get treated like adults, not babies, they flourish and do very well in their jobs. When everyone is in the same location, it’s much easier to micromanage (i.e. baby treatment).  Aside from that, working remote gives way to much clearer meeting schedules, due dates and project flow. In today’s tech world there’s endless digital options to perform, track projects, track time and be efficient. When employees are enabled to do what they need to do, they will flourish beyond belief. If they don’t then they just aren’t a good fit for the organization.

8. Safety First! People without time constraints are much more relaxed when they drive. In fact, most traffic accidents happen when people are on the way to work. It’s stressful. They have to be there at a certain time. They are judged no matter what time they walk in. When people telecommute there’s a sharp decrease in accidents and tickets.

9.  Sanity: Let’s be honest here, most offices are full of people that you find super annoying. And, why wouldn’t you? When you spend that time time around people they are going to get annoying. It’s just like a marriage. Imagine not having to deal with the stench of the bathroom on your floor or the aggravating way that Eunice leaves the coffee maker on all day and never cleans it. How less annoyed would you be if you didn’t have Margie asking you how to use the copy machine every damn day? By Fridays even the slight lisp that Beatrice has seems to be all you can hear throughout the floor and you’re ready to rip your ears off.

The Stats

According to Global Workplace Analytics only 2.6% of employees consider home their primary office. However, since 2005 telecommuting has grown almost 80% (with a slight decline during the recession). In a quarter of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, more people now telecommute than use public transportation as their principal means of transportation to work. In addition:

  • 79% of U.S. workers say they would like to work from home at least part of the time (WorldatWork Telework Trendlines 2009). 87% of federal employees say they want to (2013 Federal Viewpoint Survey)
  • Our estimate based on the current labor force composition is that 64 million U.S employees holds a job that is compatible at least part-time to telework (50% of the workforce).
  • Taken together the above number suggests that 50 million workers both could and want to telework.

What’s your take on telecommuting? Love it? Hate it? Comment below.

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10 People You Need To Remove From Your Facebook Feed

Our social media friends can have just as much (or more) of an impact on our lives, attitudes and behaviors as anyone in the real world. And, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s not all rosebuds and picnics in the park. There’s some negative ones, creepy ones, and faceless ones (#10). Here’s 10 peeps you need to remove from your Facebook feed ASAP… or, any social feed for that matter. You’ll thank me later.

10 People You Need To Remove From Your Facebook Feed

1. The Political Soapbox Dude

You know this guy/gal. They have their platform what seems like almost daily. And, it’s their way or the highway. They want to fill your feed with political movements, outrageous government decisions, and saving the whales. They’re also likely to send you mass Facebook messenger chain letters to get you to sign a petition, show up for a riot, or socially trash a political candidate they want taken down. It’s nice that they’re passionate but they gotta take it down a notch, seriously.

2. The Offended Victim

Everything offends them. They love to post about how offended they are. Other posts offend them. Their daily live revolves around being offended and that’s all posted too. And, if you make a comment on it, they’re probably also offended by that. Eggshells is their middle name. Basically you can’t post much around them or they comment on the offensive nature. Or, they’ll shoot you a message and rant about your offensiveness. I’m offended just thinking about it.

3. The Feed Dictator

This one just won’t stop. They literally seem to have a 24/7 connection eyes to screen. It doesn’t seem to matter what you post, they are the first to comment and it’s typically within the first 88 seconds.  They comment on everything every single time. And if you have mutual friends you see all their comments on their feeds too. They just won’t go away.

4. The Super Sensitive Stalker

This kiddo follows everything and knows more about you than you probably know about yourself. For some bizarre psychological reason they think that every post is about them. Are they tagged in it? No. Photo of them? Nope. Name referenced? Nope again. Why? Because your posts have zero to do with them and weren’t even inspired by them. But, they’ll shoot you a message wondering why you hate them after you post that you don’t eat sushi. Connection? No again.

5. The World Revolver

This one is the Super Sensitive Stalker times 10. They think the world revolves around them. It’s like a Kardashian. If you post that you don’t like cats they will rip you a new asshole because they have a cat and now you’re evil because you must be talking about their cat. You’re now insulting all cats of the world. You must be stopped.

6. Debbie Downer

Boo-hoooooo. Everything sucks. This person could take eating ice cream on a yacht topless in the Mediterranean surrounded by Brazilian models and mounds of gold coins and turn it into something depressing. So what if it’s a good day? Tomorrow you have to go back to work and work sucks. Who cares if it’s sunny? Winter is coming in 4 months and it sucks. You had a baby? Great the kid will probably hate you in 12 years.

7. The Fairy Tale-er

OMG could their life be any more perfect? This person feed almost brings out the Debbie Downer in you. It seems their whole life is exotic vacations, new Louboutins, dining at the finest restaurants, and it seems like zero work is needed. They’re gorgeous and so is their family. Everything is name brand and it gets nauseating. How is their life that effing perfect??? It’s not. They just only post the good stuff. And, probably “filter” it to look even better.  They won’t post updates on the knock down drag out fight they had with their spouse the night before in which they ended up sleeping in the driveway covered in Vodka. They also won’t mention their real “fat days.” They’ll post their skinny days and call them their “fat days.” You know exactly what I mean.

8. Relatives

Honestly, it’s not worth it. You may have a select few that are safe. But, by in large, I’ve found more arguments and family divides can result over social media posts than anything in-person.  This is especially true when you’re dealing with diverse generations where one is much more open than the other (i.e. Gen Y vs. Boomers).

9. The Sales Guy

Sometimes this one even is a relative. This dude is always peddlin’ something. They have crappy post etiquette and will post a link on one of your posts that has nothing to do with the post to promote their new cell phones and wifi they’re selling. You’re not looking to buy a house but they’ll be sure to reach out often to try to sell you one.  Typically what they are selling is a complete bunch of nonsense. #pyramidscheme

10: The No Picture Person

Anyone who has NO profile picture and no pictures on their profile anywhere that are of them. They’ll have celebs, weird drawings of who knows what, dogs, flowers, romantic beaches, and the snake they saw dead on the road. But them? Nope. No idea what they look like. If you know them in person it’s just as weird though. What are they hiding? Something is up.

What types do you remove from your feed? Any pet peeves? Comment below!

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Best Times to Send Out Your E-commerce Email Campaigns

I have to disappoint you. There is no silver bullet answer to this problem: perfect time and day for sending promotional emails vary drastically depending on your demographics, geography, email list sources etc.

That said, not all is lost – there are ways and stats available to help us get closer to the perfect sending time. Let’s dig into them.

4 Important Points to Take Into Consideration when Picking Your Email Sending Time and Day

Picking the right day and time is critical to success of your email campaigns. Some days are particularly busy (Monday for example) and some times are really just inconvenient for most of your potential customers (daily rush hour time for example).

A few things you need to take into consideration when thinking about your perfect email sending time:

  1. Who are your customers and when do they normally read emails: you probably already know your customers best. Potentially try running a survey or observe your historical email data.
  2. What do your customers normally do in the time-frame of two hours after your email sending time: vast majority of all emails are read in the first 4 hours after delivery. Consider this whole time frame instead of focusing on a particular time of day.
  3. When do your target customers make most of their online purchases: don’t simply focus on the open rates; try to optimize for the revenue. Check your best times and days based on revenue from your normal web analytics and see if you can combine this data with other signals to nail the perfect email timing.
  4. When do other e-commerce managers send their email campaigns: look at the benchmark stats below, try to avoid the email sending volume peaks and always experiment with different sending times.

Let’s look into some of the stats and tips that should help you get closer to your optimal sending time.

Sending day: Wednesday, Thursday… maybe even weekends

Even though, historically, marketers have been thought and advised that the best days to send out emails are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, you shouldn’t take that for granted. When I looked at the statistics from various email service providers, they seem to vary quite a lot.

For example, independent researches by GetResponse and MailChimp both point to similar conclusions: best performing day of the week is Thursday and you should send your emails between 2-4PM on that day.

Be careful when making quick assumptions from the charts below: MailChimp’s data seems not to be adjusted by volume of emails sent out at particular time (they also acknowledge that the volume of emails is biggest on during the weekdays). Naturally, Thursdays then consequently see the highest number of opens.

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19 Signs That Job Is Going To Ruin Your Life

In today’s world it’s exciting to get an email or phone call from a potential employer, let alone an actual interview. In a world full of rejection it’s no wonder so many of us feel like we’re almost whoring ourselves out to potential employers. It’s way too easy to have our rose colored glasses on and think that that job , the job is the end all be all. The dream. It’s just what you wanted. It’s what you’ve been working for. It’s the job.

Just hold on there, kiddo. Not so fast. Many of our “dream jobs” are actually situations that are not what we think, and I don’t mean that in a good way. There are signs to pay attention to behind those rose colored glasses when going through the “dating” phase of interviewing. Here’s 19 signs that job is going to ruin your life. #fail

19 Signs That Job Is Going To Ruin Your Life

  1. Oh hey, you’re new too!!? Pay attention to the turnover in a company. If it’s not a start-up, yet everyone is new… run.
  2. Drama Queen… If the management is dramatic then you can bet their organization is. Pay attention to the drama level of who you’re meeting with. If he/she is already telling you about how long their days are, their car broke down on the way to work, and the coffee shop was  out of Espresso so they’re ready to kill… run.
  3. What a Mess! If the office is messy, that’s a bad sign. External clutter is a sign of internal chaos. No, it doesn’t have to be nice and neat like a museum (unless, of course, it is a museum), but the surroundings should be clean and fairly neat.
  4. Someone read their thesaurus… Be aware of buzzwords and sales phrases. If someone is telling you about what a unique opportunity to live the life you imagined or some string of phrases that’s a bad sign.
  5. Trainee or Intern? If either of these are used in the description, run. It’s just code for work your ass off for free for zero benefits of anything.
  6. Own your own business now!!! Anything that’s a pyramid scheme… run. Sorry, pyramid fans. Denial is not a river in Egypt. Get it? J
  7. I just LOVE it here! If the hiring manager or someone you interview with is trying to sell you the company, walk away. If everything is just sooooooooooooooo wonderful, that’s a bad sign.
  8. We wear lots of hats! Yes, it can be appealing to work for a “start-up” but be wary of this phrase. It just means there’s zero organization or direction so you’ll probably be flailing your arms all over the place doing everything from buying coffee for the boss to scrubbing the toilet to fixing the Wifi. #BeenThere
  9. Can you start…umm, now? If someone hires you on the spot or same day, watch out. It’s not only totally disorganized it’s also creepy. Get ready to be living on a shotgun schedule if that’s how you’re hired.
  10. Come visit! If you’re applying for a job in a location that requires you to travel there for an interview, watch out for how they handle the trip. If they book you on a Greyhound bus leaving at 3 am with 12 stops until you arrive at the glorious Motel 6, watch out. If they don’t care enough to give you a nice trip out (or at least one that’s not total hell) then they sure won’t care about your life as their employee.
  11. You’ll spend today with Jenny, Bobby and Sue… If you never see your new manager and they dump you on everyone else to train you… watch out.
  12. You’re not too sensitive, are you? If the hiring team wants to make sure you are tough and have a thick skin, watch out. That just means they’re going to cuss you out and yell at you on a regular basis.
  13. Goodmorning to you! Take a look around at the people there. Are they energized? Are they smiling? If the people in the organization look like they’re ready to fall asleep or jump out the window… run.
  14. Ask… Take time to ask people in the organization about why they like working there. Ask them the best and worst parts. You can tell if they’re being genuine. And, if they tell you the management is the best and there’s nothing in the worst category (as they bite their nails while warding off a vicious eye twitch), the run.
  15. You’ll just need to buy this first… If you have to spend your own money on stuff to even start the job (clothes, equipment, etc), then run.
  16. We’re so amazing you’d be lucky to work here… If the organization is so focused on them that they hardly even ask about you. If they make it seem like you should thank your lucky stars to be part of their organization… run.
  17. Dumb rules… Pay attention to rules that are stupid or weird. Some organizations will even post “rules” in employee areas.  Read them. Ask around. If a place has a rule that  your heel height has to be 2.75 inches or lower… run. Unless, of course, you want to be written up for wearing Louboutins.
  18. Written notes… On the subject of rules, pay attention to notes that are written or typed and where they are placed. This  is passive aggressiveness 101. If you see something like “Please take your food out of the refrigerator on Friday or we THROW IT OUT :-)” … run.
  19. Is your boss a dick?  You should be able to tell this one pretty easily. If not, ask around. If you ask employees if their boss is a dick, believe me, their expression will tell you all you need to know.
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20 Most Common Mistakes that Amateur Blogs Make

It is a well known fact that whatever we do for the first time, we tend to make mistakes and there is no denying in saying that your experiences teaches you the best. But as Alfred Sheinwold says “learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself” is also very true. No matter what we do for the first time like riding a bicycle, trying out a new recipe or initiating a new venture, few things are left behind to indicate that the person is new or amateur in a particular arena. Same is the case with the new bloggers; they leave certain clues in their writing through which one can easily identify amateur blogs among thousand pieces of other blogs.

It is not a very tough job to recognize amateur blogs, as there are certain mistakes which are commonly made by these new bloggers and therefore, one can easily spot amateur blogs. This is true that we human beings make mistakes in doing things for the first time but on other hand, it is also the reality that some mistakes are very expensive to make especially when the cost is financial and reputational. Amateur blogs are one of those errors that can make you lose sales and loss of potential clients over the hands of competitors.

We are fortunate that we are living in such a world, where we can get easy access to the case studies of big failures and the solutions which are drawn out from those blunders and experiences that not only help us skipping those similar mistakes but also enable us to use them in our advantage. There are millions of blogs on diverse subject present in the world of internet today, some of them are very professional and some of them are just amateur blogs, so how can new bloggers avoid these common mistakes?

Here are twenty common mistakes that can be found in amateur blogs, that you can evade and make your pieces more attractive for readers. Following is the comprehensive list of those errors that new bloggers does in their writing pieces and that must be avoided in order to make you stand out of the entire crowd of bloggers and to give a good start to your blogging venture.

1. Chaotic Backgrounds:

To identify amateur blogs, see the background and color layouts of the page. Either it will be way too simple, plain and white or it will have the loud colors and never ending images. Pictures are good, they keep things interesting and captivates the readers but too much of them will make your readers run away same is the case with the background texture and colors, they must be eye catching and comforting and it should be kept like that instead of turning them too loud.

2. Poor Formatting: 

Nothing annoys more than the improper formats and alignment of the texts and nothing gives more hard time than reading the texts aligned at centers. Centered texts can be used for headings, quotations or sayings but the entire blog focusing on centered text is way too much to handle in amateur blogs.

3. Too Much Focus On Advertising:

Amateur blogs are in too much hurry to post tons of advertisements on their page without considering the readership of the page. When blogs are new, it is wiser to focus on writing and making a decent readership instead of diverting your focus towards pasting advertisements on the page. Once you have a good base of readers and you feel your blogs have attained the certain level of recognition then invest your time in posting advertisements so that you get the better response in comparison of doing it way too earlier.

4. Only Blogging:

Only writing huge articles is not enough. Readers don’t visit your page because there are so many writing pieces but because they find them worthy enough to read and invest their time on reading it. It is not about writing tons of blogs daily but to write something that touches the heart of your readers and makes them think.

5. Variations in Fonts:

Fonts are something that can traumatize the minds of the readers or can soothe their eyes. Using different fonts and giving a variety of fonts in your writing piece will not make your blog look appealing but more chaotic. There needs to be a difference in headings and the body only and not the entire presenting the fluctuating trend in fonts. They must be understandable and simple.

6. Archives:

Blog archives are something totally outdated and no one is interested in reading what you posted in twenty ten instead give tags to your blogs or post categories will be the much better option than just filling the side bars with blog archives.

7. Melody and Song Tracks:

Don’t put the melodies or songs on your blogs. Firstly, you can’t predict the music tastes of your readers and secondly people who are accessing your blogs on work, or while babysitting, or when someone’s baby is sleeping will avoid coming to your blogs if you keep the music and especially the when they turns on automatically.
Other than that the music you keep on your blogs doesn’t necessarily aligns with the content you have posted and it makes your page to work slowly instead you can try on adding your inimitable and novel writing style and original piece of work.

8. Ignoring Personalized Touch:

Readers who are visiting your blogs and reading them are not machines but humans. Therefore, using more of those words that make them feel like as if you are interacting with them directly by using words like I, We, Us, Always. This personal touch in your blogs will create a bond between you and reader and will give your readers a positive vibe that will attract them back to your blogs.

9. Too Excited to Showoff Blogs:

The desperation to make people or visitors read your blog, is the serious blunder found in amateur blogs which does nothing better than irritating the visitors by putting forward the blog directly and not giving them the introduction or purpose of the website. When visitors enter into a website, they expect to see the home page first instead of the texts. So, don’t forget to give an introduction to the potential clients or visitors on what the website is all about and what it offers to the readers or the visitors.

10. Poor Integration:

Another sign of amateur blogs is the poor integration of blogs with website i.e. when you click a link provided on the page it will take you to the homepage or into a completely new page which will have a unique layouts, colors and designs in comparison to what you have seen at homepage leading you towards confusion about the site and putting you in dilemma that whether you are one the same website, where you intended to be initially.

11. Free Platforms:

When the integrated blogs are found on free platforms like WordPress.com or Blogger.com indicates the amateur blogs. This normally happens when blogger doesn’t plan to make business out of their writing and on later stages they build a professional website and integrate their blogs on free arena to their professionally made site. This is a serious error that one should avoid as it not only gives unprofessional look but also confuses the minds of the readers.

12. Muddled Blogs:

Amateur blogs have a distinguished feature and that is they are all cluttered. Nothing causes more hassle and gets on nerves than seeing jumbled texts on one page, giving away too much of information with loads of widgets or tools.
When you try to serve everything to the visitor, they get puzzled and exit without choosing further.
The neat, simple and cleaner the blog is with a clear and pleasant font, the more it soothes the eyes and minds of the reader.

13. Not Showing What You Have Got: 

Another common mistake in amateur blogs is that they are all about spreading information only. There is no doubt that blogging is a really good way to spread awareness and communicate the experiences. However, they are not enough until you showcase your products and services by advertising them and putting their links on your side bars along with mentioning the clients you have worked with and the services you are providing to other clients.

14. Not Getting Connected With Other Bloggers:

This is the world of Give and Take in which we are living. We all are connected with each other, the better we use those connections the beneficial it will be. In blogging too link other bloggers to your site and get linked with other bloggers, it will not only help in building up the readership but will also promote your blogs.

15. Not Following The Concept of Sharing Is Caring: 

Some said it so rightly “sharing is caring”, this can be applied to newbie’s as well. When you are new and you want to go long way, start by building relationships and bonding with other bloggers who help you out in your journey at later stages. Given the selfish nature of humans in which we want to keep everything for ourselves is not completely wrong but when you are at the initial stages of your blogging career, share the stuff of other bloggers and share blogs of popular bloggers, it will help you building the audience for your site and after the infancy stage, when you start to get recognition, make it fifty fifty i.e. 50% of your work and rest of other popular bloggers.

16. Avoiding Social Media in Amateur Blog:

You write really well, your blogs are very interesting but still you need to promote them and advertise them without incurring money into it. The simplest and most convenient solution is the social media through which you can reach to your potential readers, can create awareness about your blogs and can communicate your readers about your work. Not only you will get the good traffic but it will also give you the excellent exposure and depending on the excellence of the content you furnished on your page the traffic can be converted into the good readership.

17. Running After Profitable Niche:

The successful bloggers are those who do blogging because they are passionate about it and not for the sake of the money. As a newbie your focus must be on generating the superior and excellent content to make a decent readership base. However, if the job is being done just to earn some bucks then it is the way towards failure.
There are so many bloggers who makes this mistake, they lose their focus and select the niche which doesn’t excites them. Choosing the niche you are passionate about will not only give you the thrill in writing but will be proved as a profitable decision as well.

18. Plagiarism:

Not only plagiarism is a crime but it also damages the reputation and relations of the reader with the blogger. Initially it seems to be a boring to write blogs and copying it from other niche seems to be much simpler. However, such tactics doesn’t help you to sustain in the market for very long. It not only gives the bad impression to readers but also damages the readership base. Therefore, whatever you write ensure it is authentic and original. Even if you are copying a blog from somewhere else, do give the name of the source and credit to the original blogger.

19. Distorted Avatar:

Unique avatar not only gives professional look but it also helps in branding and makes a blogger identifiable whenever they revert back to the comments on their posts. It will also give the personalize touch to your blog and reader will have your image on their minds as well which in return will make the bond more real between the blogger and the reader.

20. Lost Blogs:

Most of the time it happens, when reader reads certain blogs and they like it and want to read again or want to recommend it in their social circle and when they visit back to the site, they just couldn’t get back to that specific post they really liked. Make sure that you provide search bars through which readers can easily search the posts of their liking without getting frustrated or disappointed.

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Tips on How to Sell Your Domain Name

Before, telling you how you can sell your domains, let me tell you one thing!

These days, if you’ve got one or 2 words (or sometimes even 3 words that relates directly to any popular service
or a business product) in your domain name, you’ve got a great chance to sell them asap.

Whereas, holding a non .com domain has got a lesser chance of getting sold out.

Of course, if you are lucky enough, even a non .com will get sold for a good price, but normally, it doesn’t happen.

1. Show a message that says: (for sale) on the domain name that you want to sell.

Believe it or not, by showing this message on your domain, you can increase the chances of selling your domain because people might look for that particular domain by checking it whether it’s taken by someone or not and will find a message underneath that yes, this domain is still available and you need to contact the owner to get your price.

Mostly, domain registrars do provide free one page website tool, by which you can easily create a landing page showing a message “domain name for sale”.

2. Sell domains on (Flippa):

Flippa is the leading market place on the net, where almost each and every domain gets more attention in comparison with other traditional and heavily crowded market places.

This thing also happened with me as I was having a 2 word domain named as technology-oriented.com and I tried Godaddy auctions as well as many other marketplaces for more than a year or two, but nothing really worked.

However, after realizing that there is nothing to lose, I tried listing my domain on Flippa. You won’t believe, but I managed to sell it for thousand dollars! yes, you are reading that word “thousand” correctly!

In accordance with my observation, domains that gets sold on Flippa easily are one’s that provide a (detailed-description) of their domain name while listing it.

3. Always keep your domain price fixed, if you are really interested to sell a domain:

The reason why I am saying this is that if you are going to keep your price fixed, you might not even get money lying on the table.

Also keep in mind that lets suppose, if someone contacted you personally to purchase any of your fixed price domain, you shall ask him or her to (make-an-offer) because by doing that, you are definitely going to tell a higher price from the one that is mentioned as your fixed price.

4. Make use of (charm-pricing) in order to increase the probability of making a sale:

Have you ever seen prices like 99 and 98 in the super market? Well, if you have, its called as “charm-pricing”.

Lets suppose, if the price of your domain is $2000, make it $1999 to play with the customer’s psychology!

 

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Most Common Errors that Local Businesses Make on their Website

Over the last few years, many local search experts have reported many mistakes that local businesses make in their website. Therefore, in this post, I will be sharing the most common errors that you need to avoid in future, when it comes to maximizing local search visibility of your site.

Don’t Just Focus on Your Brand and Product Selling

Focusing on your ‘brand’ too many times is not going to give you expected results and it is the one area that many local businesses do not care about. You need to be aware of the fact that you are the only business with that name in your industry and you do not have to optimize it, hence you just need to gain an upper edge over your competitors by being “more” than just your brand of products/services.

To sell your product or a service, you need a good website, but that does not mean that you should only have your items on it because every competitor in your industry is selling the same product/service. Therefore, you need to differentiate them, you need to talk about your company, your business community and your story. You need to give your audience “more” than just brand awareness and product selling campaigns.

Mistake of thinking that People Only Come for Your Product/Service

This is another common mistake that many local enterprises make when it comes to optimizing their website for enhanced local search visibility. For example, a reputed automobile dealer in Oregon put up a website that has only got information on vehicles that they sell. They think that there is no need to add any extra content other than their vehicles, as they assume that people will visit their site if they are searching for a specific vehicle. People come to their website via a Google search for extremely specific make/year/ model searches. But in reality, all of this is not entirely true and make sure that you do not fall into this trap. When it comes to increasing local search traffic to your site, make sure that you have a great website with good user experience thereby catching customers earlier in the buying funnel.

Do Not Ignore Your Home Page

This is one of the most common errors that local businesses make when it comes to implementing their local search campaign. Most local enterprises ignore their home page for local search optimization efforts. You should think of your home page as an ad for your business, providing important information about your business. Your customers need to be able to learn about what you do, and Google, Bing and Yahoo need to have content to index. If there is nothing there, but a slide show with ten images and few links to your products/services, then you are missing a big opportunity for both your customers and search engines to ‘like’ your website.

Forgetting to Optimize Off-site Local Signals

This is another mistake that local enterprises make when it comes to implementing their local SEO campaign. As you know that Google offers unique products for local businesses such as Google+ Local and Google My Business, so you need to focus on fully optimizing these Google platforms rather than focusing only on on-site optimization. Make sure that your NAP or citations are consisted and properly listed. Also, try to earn good quality and relevant links from locally relevant websites.

When you are doing local search campaign on your own, make sure that you avoid these common mistakes and ensure that your SEO foundation is solid before you begin implementation of your strategies.

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